Vaiko, Rajya Sabha member and Tamil Nadu politician, on Wednesday moved a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court seeking the Jammu and Kashmir government to produce former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, believed to be under detention following the dilution of Article 370, in court and set him free.
In his petition, Mr. Vaiko said Mr. Abdullah was scheduled to attend a conference organised by him in Chennai on September 15.
Mr. Vaiko, general secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), said the event was organised annually “on the occasion of the birthday of Thiru. C.N. Annadurai, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in the spirit of peaceful democratic debate and discussion so as to strengthen the unity and integrity of India”.
The petition said Mr. Abdullah had attended the previous year’s event. Mr. Vaiko said he could not contact Mr. Abdullah despite his best efforts.
“On or around August 5, Farooq Abdullah was placed under detention in Srinagar,” it said.
An MDMK release in Chennai said, “Farooq Abdullah had accepted the invitation to attend the event. Due to the situation prevailing in Kashmir, it is learnt that leaders, including Mr. Abdullah, are kept in house arrest. They could not be reached.”
The petition said Mr. Vaiko had written to the authorities on August 29, seeking permission to allow Mr. Abdullah to attend the conference in the “spirit of encouraging democratic participation.”
However, neither the Union Home Ministry nor the State government chose to respond to his letter.
“The actions of the respondents [Union and State] are illegal and arbitrary and violative of the right to protection of life and personal liberty, right to protection from arrest and detention and also against right to free speech and expression, which is the cornerstone of a democratic nation,” the petition said.
Any limitation on the fundamental freedoms of free speech and expression imposed in the guise of a “reasonable restriction” should be narrowly interpreted by the Supreme Court in order to maintain the spirit of democracy.